SPOKANE, Wash. – With growing violence – and suicide rates above the national average – Washington faces an uphill battle to provide quality mental health care to residents, especially those living in the central and eastern parts of the state.

 
Rural areas struggle to obtain the resources needed by primary care physicians to treat complex cases of pain, addiction and mental illness. The reality is so stark and difficult that many primary care physicians choose to leave the field.
 
Dr. Matt Layton, a psychiatrist with WSU Health Sciences, is working to change that reality through a number of innovative programs incorporated into medical training at WSU Spokane.
 
Layton, clinical associate professor of WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) medical sciences and medical director in the WSU College of Nursing program of excellence in the addictions, teaches behavioral health that strives to take a holistic look at patients and their environments. Instead of just handing out a prescription for pain meds, for example, new physicians will be encouraged to look at the whole person and discern how mental health and addictions may play a role in the condition.
 
With more public awareness and discussion, Layton hopes to decrease the stigma attached to mental illness and allow people to more readily find the help they need.